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Arnold Makes Aspen Bear Famous -- Yes, That Arnold.

Colin Flaherty's picture

Some bears are born famous. Others achieve fame. And some have fame thrust upon them.

And when the history of Aspen bears is written many years from now, surely no bear will have as much world-wide attention thrust upon it, however briefly, as the 800-pound bronze bear created by Steven Bennett, purchased by Arnold Schwarzenegger, sold at Aspen’s Royal Street Fine Art gallery, and now sitting in front of the governor’s office in Sacramento.

From Los Angeles to New York, Europe to the Persian Gulf, hundreds of papers, radtio and television stations throughout the planet are doing stories about the bear, in what now must be regarded as the most famous piece of art ever sold in our little town.

A statue of a grizzly bear.

The Governator recently found the bear while in Aspen for a fundraiser. He thought the kids who visit the state Capitol would enjoy playing on it. The grizzly bear is, after all, on the state flag.

So he plucked it from the gallery and shipped it and his own expense.

Newspaper readers used the bear to have some fun with the governor – also at his expense.

At the Sacramento Bee, one wag suggested the bear take over Arnold's office and put Arnold on display.

In San Francisco, the Chronicle dubbed it the “Bear-inator” and wondered about the ‘bear necessity” of Governor of California buying a statue of the state bear in Aspen, especially one that was created by an artist from North Carolina.

In Los Angeles, a reader thought a statue of the Terminator would be more fun.

The New York Times even got in on the act, placing the purchase price for the bear at $20,000 and quoting a state official saying it is was ironic that the grizzly was back in Sacramento because 100 years before state officials had done so much to exterminate them.

Bennett was happy with his new found notoriety. Until now, his work was as least as well known among interior decorators and church architects as art aficionados. And in a gallery that features at least 20 artists, including several with one name such as Miko, Royal Street’s web site does not list Bennett as one of its featured artists.

Not yet, anyway.